The Hale Brothers

The ladder in Holy Trinity Church ringing chamber
Photograph by Tim Gane
The ladder, with its date of 1863
Photograph by Tim Gane
Grave of Benjamin and Mary Ann Hale, Holy Trinity, Meldreth, churchyard
Tim Gane

By the early 19C Edward Hale, a carpenter born in 1778 in nearby Therfield, Hertfordshire married his wife Eleanor (from Meldreth 1781-1867) and may have lived initially in Shepreth as their first son Benjamin was born there in 1814.  He was baptised in Holy Trinity Church, Meldreth on 10th July 1814.  Edward may have moved to North End in Meldreth between 1814 and 1830.

In the Census of 1841 a young Benjamin Hale and his young wife Sarah (from Wisbech) is living in the Smithy, North End, working as a wheelwright. The population of Meldreth was 730 in 1847.

Next door is the Day family with 4 children. One of the children is called Benjamin Hale Day. His mother, also Sarah, was the sister of Benjamin Hale.  She married a James Day in 1833.

In the adjoining property his father Edward Hale is living with his wife Eleanor and son William (agricultural labourer, aged 20)

In Kelly’s Trade Directory of 1847 Edward Hale is listed as being the landlord of The Green Man public house.

The 1851 Census shows Benjamin Hale, with his wife Sarah, is still working in the Smithy in North End. They have 2 children, Elizabeth, born in 1844 and Arthur born in 1848. This would have been at the time of the railway coming to Meldreth in 1851. Agriculture was the main industry plus the beginning of the coprolite industry so blacksmiths were in demand.

In 1851 Edward and Eleanor Hale are now living nearby in the Day family home. James and Sarah Day are no longer there although 2 of their sons Edward (age 17) and Benjamin Hale Day(age 13) live with their grandparents.

In 1858 Benjamin Hale is listed in Kelly’s Directory as being a wheelwright, blacksmith and running a post office from his home. Letters were received at that time firstly in Melbourn and taken on to Meldreth for delivery. Benjamin now has 3 more children, Herbert 1850, George 1851,and Louisa 1853.

By 1859 his first wife Sarah Hale had now died and by 1861 their daughter Elizabeth Hale (16) is listed as being the housekeeper to her Benjamin. Benjamin’s mother Eleanor is still living nearby in North End with her grandson Edward Day.

In 1864 Benjamin Hale was working as Parish Clerk, wheelwright and blacksmith. He probably helped with the refurbishment of the Church in 1841 as he was very involved with church life generally. The ladder into the bell tower is known to have been made by him and is dated 1863.

By 1871 Benjamin had remarried to Mary Ann (2nd wife born in Ashwell). Four of his children were still at home aged between 14 and 22.  Two sons, Arthur and George were working as wheelwrights with their father.

In 1881 Arthur had left the family business and Elizabeth (unmarried) had now moved back to the family home with her own daughter, Henrietta (age 7, father unrecorded).  Herbert and George  were working at the Smithy with their father as wheelwrights.

In 1885 Arthur Hale married Ruth (nee Willmott, age 22) and he was working in his own right as another wheelwright in North End. They had two children. Sadly one of them, Reginald Benjamin, died in 1887 aged 17 months after a scalding accident in their home.

Extract from The Cambridge Chronicle in 1887

Meldreth — A CHILD SCALDED TO DEATH.– On Wednesday, Mr C.W Palmer, the County Coroner, held an inquiry at The Green Man, Meldreth, into the circumstances attending the death of Reginald Benjamin Hale aged 17 months, son of Arthur Hale, Wheelwright, of Meldreth. It appeared from the evidence that on Monday, the child fell into a bath of boiling water and received such severe scalds.

In 1892 Benjamin was listed as Parish Clerk and Receiver.

Benjamin died in 1897 and his second wife Mary Ann died in 1882.  They are buried in Holy Trinity churchyard.

In 1901 George Hale was working as a wheelwright in his own smithy, living next to The Grange at the station end of Meldreth High Street between Hubert Ellis and George Palmer.

He was married to Charlotte Frost. By 1891 they had four children Florence (11), George E (9) John Thomas (7) Bertram (3).

The wheelwrights and blacksmiths seemed to have covered all the various areas of the village. George would probably have worked on the agricultural machinery around the area of the station.

He and his wife both died in 1919 at their home Oakville Lodge near The Grange, High Street, Meldreth within 7 weeks of each other.

Herbert Hale, son of Benjamin Hale, worked as a wheelwright in his own right just near The Warren in Meldreth in 1901.  He was married and had two sons: Hubert born in 1898 and Stanley born in 1902.  He also had two daughters, Elsie by Sarah in 1910 and another, Grace, by his second wife Grace, in 1929. Eventually he joined his brother Arthur to form a business called Hale Brothers back at the Old Smithy in North End.  Herbert was also Churchwarden at Holy Trinity Church following in the footsteps of his father and grandfather.  The business continued with the help of his son Hubert and flourished until 1936 when it finally succumbed to being financially not viable.


Comments about this page

  • If anyone has researched that far back, there was a John Hale of Royston who wrote a will in 1701: probate was granted in May 1704 suggesting he died in the first half of that year (I can supply a copy). The will mentions a brother William Hale, and his wife was Elizabeth: at least one of his descendants married into the Wortham family, who were a significant family in south Cambridgeshire at that time. Royston/Meldreth are not that far apart, there may be a family connection to later Hales.

    By Peter Jackson (19/06/2022)
  • We are researching my husband’s family who originate from Meldreth, Therfield and Melbourn.

    My husband is descended from:

    John Hale b. 1806 Meldreth (3 x great grandfather)
    Wife: Ann Preston b. 1804 Cambridge

    John Preston Hale b. Meldreth 1836 (2 x great grandfather)
    Wife: Mary Ellis Woodcock b 1839 Melbourn

    Archibald Ernest Hale b. 1866 Melbourn (great grandfather)
    Wife: Elizabeth Smith b. 1870 Wymondley

    Archibald Eustace Hale b. 1900 Melbourn (grandfather)
    Wife: Edith Lilian Pigg b. 1900 Royston

    John Preston b. 1935 Melbourn (father)
    Wife: Catherine b. 1933 Scotland

    In reply to Jill Rogerson’s message on here about her Grandfather Lancelot Hale b. 1883 (my husband’s great grand uncle) we have photographs of him and his wife. We also have press cuttings from his time in the Home Guard in Melbourn.

    We would love to hear from anyone who shares common ancestors and has family photographs or stories to share. We are happy to share our photos too.

    I note that many Hale descendants have Preston as a middle name, as do my husband and son. We assume this came from Ann Hale née Preston.

    By Christine Hale (16/01/2022)
  • I am researching the Hale family tree during lockdown(s) with my brother and sister. Our grandfather was Lance(lot) Hale, youngest son of John Preston Hale and Mary Ellis Woodcock. I am in contact with Carl who has contributed to this page, and would like to get into contact with Eddy Hale who lives in Wisconsin. I sent Eddy an email but think this may have changed

    By Jill Rogerson (17/02/2021)
  • My great great grandfather is George Eustace Charles Hale (Sutton) and i would like some more information (and hopefully photos!) of his family and the family, I have facebook twitter and instagram if anyone would be kind enough to contact me.

    I am currently doing the family tree so all and info will help!

    By Carl Anscombe (27/09/2020)
  • I am researching part of the Hale family, too. I am looking for John Hale (b.c1776) who married Judah Welch in Meldreth in 1807. I can’t find where John was born, but assume it was nearby. Their daughter, Mary Hale (b.c1809) married James Gambie in 1829 in Thriplow.

    By pam (16/07/2017)
  • Thank you Eddy. Your family tree is familiar to me. I have amongst family documents a newspaper cutting (with photograph) of the 40th wedding anniversary celebrations of Mr and Mrs Jack Hale of Lima Center.

    By Elaine Linehan (26/03/2017)
  • In reference to the post by Blaine Linehan, I am descended from J. P. Hale and M. E. Woodcock. They are my 2x great grandparents. They also had at least three other sons, as I have a picture of John Preston (died 1892 in military stationed in India), Archibald – my great grandfather (died 4/1951), and Bert (oldest in family, died 1915). Archibald married Elizabeth Smith and they had 7 children. Their oldest son, Jack, emigrated to the US and married Mary McCord. They had 3 children and their youngest son, John Preston, was my father. I would be happy to share more with those interested.

    By Eddy Preston Hale (13/01/2017)
  • George Eustace Hale (also known as Sutton), the son of John Preston Hale and Mary Ellis Woodcock remained in contact with his family throughout his life. I have numerous photographs of him in the company of his relatives including one of him with his mother. His parents were married at All Saints Church, Melbourn on November 7th 1857 and were married for over 68 years. Whilst John Preston Hale was raised in Meldreth his wife came from Melbourn and I believe they lived there for at least 65 years. John Preston Hale was a carpenter and at some stage the family were undertakers.

    By Elaine Linehan (24/01/2016)
  • I was wondering if anyone had any information on the eldest daughter of George Hale and Charlotte Frost. Florence Emma Hale (1890-1930) seems to have been a bit of a mystery to her family and I was hoping someone might know about her. Any help would be appreciated.

    By Lisa Fox (31/01/2015)
  • I too am intrigued to read about the Hale brothers. My husband’s middle name was Hale, as was that of his father and grandfather. His great-grandmother was Charlotte Hale, dau of William Warren Hale and Ann Field; his 3X great grandparents were Edward Hale and Edith Warren.  

    I have not been pursuing the line of Edward Hale b.1780, though I have seen somebody’s tree on Ancestry that shows him married to “Maria”, with a son William W Hale (1807-52). Is this wrong? Or maybe Edward b.1780 married twice?

    These Hales are so confusing, with the same (unusual) forenames (Ford, Warren etc) cropping up in different generations …

    Great web page, by the way!

    By Angela Bird (28/01/2015)
  • If my research serves me correctly, Edward and Eleanor had a son called John in 1806 in Meldreth. John then had a son, named John Preston Hale(s) (John senior’s wife was Ann Preston) in 1836 in Meldreth. John Preston had a son called Eustace Charles Hale(s) in 1871 in Melbourn, Cambridge. Eustace is my great-great grandfather. 

    I hope my research is correct. I have very little information on Eustace (as he had changed his name to George Eustace Charles Sutton and as far as I’m aware from what my granddad had told me, he had no links with his previous life as a Hale).

    Any help or clarification would be greatly appreciated. I hope I descend from the family mentioned on this website, they seem like wonderful people.

    By Heather Elizabeth Anscombe (09/08/2014)
  • In reply to Robert Hale, I based my original attribution for Edward’s parents on his age in the 1841 and 1851 censuses which gave 1778 as his year of birth. Edward, son of Edward and Edith was baptised in 1780. However, since my original research, Ancestry have added many London marriages including that of Edward Hale and Maria Tillcock at St Helen, Bishopsgate, on 22 September 1806 witnessed by Ford Hale and Stephen Hale, Edward’s younger brothers – children of Edward and Edith. So I think this indicates that the Edward who married Helen Waller at Meldreth in 1802 was the son of John Hale and Judith Rumbold.

    By David Guiver (25/09/2012)
  • Thank for you this interesting page on the Hale family. I would like to ask the first two contributors (David Guiver and Sheila Hale) about Edward Hale born in nearby Therfield. In fact, there were two Edward Hales born in Therfield at this time: – 1) 27/11/1777 (chr. 21 December 1777) to John Hale and Judith Rumbold, and, – 2) in 1780 (chr. 23 Nov 1780) to Edward Hale and Edith Warren. What evidence is there to support which one of these Edwards married Helen/Elenor and moved to Meldreth? Sorry for having to ask …

    By Robert Hale (13/08/2012)
  • Thank you for your comment Barry. According to a transcription of the parish register, Mary Anne Hale was baptised in Meldreth on 2nd October 1859 and was the daughter of Edward Hale and Elizabeth.

    By Kathryn Betts (02/03/2012)
  • Thanks for the reply.  I would like to add that Mary Anne Hale married my great grandfather James Franklin at St Marys Church, Thatcham, Berkshire on 7th May 1880. He was born in the parish. She bore him 11 children, of which my grandfather Joseph was the eldest son. She died on 29th May 1947 and was buried in Thatcham cemetery. Hope this is of some interest.

    By Barry Franklin (02/03/2012)
  • I have researched my family tree and found that my great grandmother was born in Meldreth. Her name was Maryanne Hale and she was born in 1859-60 and was the daughter of Edward Hale and Phoebe Hale. According to the census he was a carpenter and lived in the High Street.

    By Barry Franklin (01/03/2012)
  • I would like to contribute further details on the Hale family. I have been researching my husband’s family tree and have been very interested to read about the Hale brothers. I would like to add that the eldest son of Edward and Elenor Hale was John, born in Meldreth in 1806. He also became a carpenter. My husband, John Hale, is descended from this line. Edward was born in Therfield in 1780 to Edward Hale and Edith Warren. His youngest sibling was Warren Stormes Hale who became Lord Mayor of London in 1864.

    By Sheila Hale (02/02/2012)
  • According to my records, Edward Hale was born 27 November 1777, son of John Hale and Judith Rumbold, baptised at Therfield 21 December 1777. Edward married Helen Waller at Meldreth on 4 November 1802 and they appear to have had three children before Benjamin: Lydia 1803, John 1806 and Sarah 1809. John married Ann Preston in 1827 and moved to Melbourn. His grandson William married Constance Jenny Guiver (my grandfather’s sister) in 1895.

    By David Guiver (13/05/2011)

Add a comment about this page

Your email address will not be published.